Jeremy Clarkson, a known critic of Hybrid vehicles, once said that since the S-class Mercedes-Benz is not a Hybrid car, and since a great proportion of the S-class technology finds its way into every cars a decade later (Airbags, ABS, EBD, etc), Hybrid cars are just a fad. It appears now, that he may be wrong.
Although Hybrid vehicles are selling in fewer numbers (indicating the fad theory might have been right), Porsche, the undisputed manufacturer of the world's best everyday supercars, has given the go ahead for a Hybrid variant of its SUV, the Porsche Cayenne.
The aim? Apart from the green image it so desperately seeks, Porsche hopes to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% while reducing fuel consumption to around 9 litres /100kms. Powered by a 3.6-litre V6 hybrid engine the new Cayenne will be called - Cayenne Hybrid.
Porsche wants to be different, and instead of following Toyota's footsteps, the company has developed a parallel full hybrid system. The difference being the hybrid’s clutch and electric motor are positioned in line between the conventional petrol engine and transmission. Porsche believes the parallel setup gives better performance and engine flexibility and more importantly, compatibility with the existing Cayenne platform.
As you may already know, Porsche have been playing around with the idea for some time, with prototypes already achieving fuel consumption of 9.8 litres /100 kms in testing on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). However Porsche will not stop until fuel consumption is reduced to around 8.9 litres /100 kms. The current petrol-only Cayenne uses 12.9 litres/100kms.
The Cayenne Hybrid will also make use of electric power to run the power steering and vacuum pump for the brakes, as well as the air conditioning.
The Cayenne Hybrid should be available before 2010, but if you thought the Hybrid move was limited to the Cayenne, environmentalists would be happy to know Porsche is also planning to eventually release the company's latest model, the four-door Panamera with a Hybrid powerplant.
The day Porsche's halo car, the 911, goes Hybrid, the world will change.